By: Essence Buckman, senior writer
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Association of Multicultural Students held an event in Leonard Auditorium opened to the campus and public. The event, hosted by Resharia Keller ’19 and Nneka Mogbo ’20, consisted of a documentary screening and Q&A session focusing on the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
AMS flew in the documentary creator, Ujuaku Nwakalor Akukwe, and her executive director, Chris Odili. Akukwe, alumna of the University of Nigeria, New York Film Academy and Pan-African University, presented her film named Afia Attack: The Untold Story of Women in the Nigeria-Biafra War.
This film focused on the West African country Nigeria and its civil war that lasted from 1967 to 1970. When regarding women, the documentary focused on their underlying importance to their husbands, fathers and brothers, as well as the harsh treatment they faced. These women endured sexual slavery and murder. Opposite of that, they were regarded as important and positive factors in the war because of their cooking for and providing emotional support to their husbands who were on the frontlines. Behind the lines, these women helped the men, while risking their lives in the process.
“The purpose of this event was to bring awareness to events in Nigeria’s past that still affect Nigeria today, and the story of the Nigeria-Biafra war is not exclusive to Nigeria, it’s the story of many post-colonial African nations suffering from the legacy of their colonizer,” Mogbo said. “At the same time, I wanted to show that creative minds come in different nationalities, races and genders.”
The documentary impacted those in attendance in a variety of ways, and a few students related with it on a more personal level.
“I felt a connection that was centered around my cultural background and the amount of suffering endured by my people. Their hard efforts during the war, particularly the women, will always be recognized within our culture,” said I.K. Nnodim, ’19. “I am proud to call Nigeria my home and I will always love my people.”
This film won the Best Short Film award at the 2017 Silicon Valley African Film Festival and was selected for the 2017 Lights Camera Africa and 2017 LA Femme International film festivals.
In emphasizing a woman’s importance to the Nigerian civil war and other wars, Odili talked about wounds and pains and how they are tended to by women. He also believes there is a romantic thing about war, because, after it’s all over, a man returns home to his wife.
Odili also mentioned that the Nigerian government would prefer to bury the past when referencing the existence of this film. Akukwe mentioned during the Q&A that history is not taught in Nigerian schools, but hopes this will change.
Toward the end of the session, Akukwe thanked AMS for their interest in screening her film because it keeps herself, Odili and others involved, and keeps them determined to continue working to spread their message.
Akukwe urged audience members to spread the message through social media and other avenues to open the conversation and generate positive change.
“The event seemed simple in theory, but it took a lot of work and collaboration between Ujuaku, myself, AMS, and Wofford,” Mogbo said. “Working between multiple groups came with its challenges, but I am hopeful that this event will open Wofford to more diverse speakers and creative minds. I don’t want my peers to leave here without seeing diversity across different mediums.”